What are Field Sobriety Tests?
Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are basically agility tests that were developed to determine if people were under the influence of drugs and/or
alcohol. It is believed that if people are drunk, their coordination will be impaired and make it difficult for them to complete the FSTs.
The first thing people should know about FSTs is that these are not really tests, but rather agility or coordination exercises. These exercises are not easy to perform. Even when sober, people may have a difficult time completing these exercises perfectly. The second thing that people should know about field sobriety tests is that they are easy to fail. When people perform these tests, they must surpass the expectations of the officers who are judging them. Chances are, if officers asked people to perform field sobriety exercises, they are already inclined to believe that the people are under the influence. This means that they may be overly critical when deciding if people pass or fail. One last thing people should be aware of is that people fail field sobriety tests for numerous reasons that are not related to being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. For example, if there are poor weather conditions and roads are slippery, people may have a difficult time completing exercises to officer’s satisfaction.
Types of Field Sobriety Tests
In the past, there were many different types of FSTs that officers would ask people to perform. However, some tests were found to be inappropriate or inconclusive when proving intoxication. Today, three FSTs are accepted by the law enforcement agencies throughout the country. These tests are the: horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn and one leg stand. If a person is stopped for suspected DWI, he/she will most likely be asked to perform these FSTs.
Do I have to take the field sobriety tests?
No, Virginia law makes it clear that these tests are purely voluntary. You do not have to take them and taking them may put you in a worse position than refusing to do so. At this point in the investigation, it is nearly certain that you will be arrested whether you cooperate or not. Be polite, but remember your right to refuse the Field Sobriety Tests.
Preliminary Breath Testing
Police may also ask you to blow into a small handheld preliminary breath testing device. Like the Field Sobriety Tests, cooperation with this test is purely voluntary. You do not have to take this test and there are virtually no good reasons to do so. By the time the officer has asked you to perform this test he or she has almost certainly already decided to arrest you. Furthermore, although officers are fond of telling you that this test cannot be used against you in court, that is completely false. Allowing the police to use these unreliable and generally poorly maintained machines in the process of arresting you is not in the best interests of most drivers.
Fairfax DUI Attorney
Whether you took field sobriety tests and failed or refused these tests and were subsequently arrested for DUI, it is crucial that you involve a Farifax DWI attorney as soon as possible. Scott C. Nolan is highly experienced and is dedicated to achieving stellar results for his clients in these matters.
Contact Fairfax DUI lawyer Scott Nolan today for a free consultation regarding your case.